Marred by high dropout rates and low enrolment numbers in municipal schools, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s education department has finally pulled up its socks to improve the quality of education in its schools. The department — following backlash from parents, non-government organisations and teachers — has proposed an array of changes for the next academic session, including several competitive exams at par with CBSE and ICSE schools.
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“We plan to start talent search exams for students of Class III, IV, VI and VII from June. This will encourage competitiveness among students and push teachers to improve their teaching standards,” said Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC.
He added the talent search exam is one of the proposed plans for which the education department will seek budgetary provisions. Although he refused to divulge the amount proposed, he said that improving quality of education was a priority for the civic body now.
Science and Maths olympiads, too, are in the offing, said Palkar, adding that moving towards activity-based learning would improve performance. “We have already finished training the teachers in activity-based learning. Instead of waiting for the next academic session, we will begin implementing the methodology from this month,” said Palkar.
“While these efforts are aimed at improving the quality of education, the teachers will have to buck up and work on their teaching methodologies,” said Palkar.
The BMC has been pushing for knowledge constructivism among teachers for some time now. Teachers are being trained to evolve unique ways of teaching using props.
In the past few years, the number of students joining the BMC schools has dropped drastically while there has been a surge in dropout rate. Activists and parents blame the poor quality of education at the BMC schools for the situation.
A report by Praja Foundation, released on Wednesday, had held the BMC responsible for the poor performance of its students despite an increase in budgetary provisions. The report said that only 72 per cent students of municipal schools passed the SSC exams in the academic year 2015-16 compared to 86 per cent in private schools.
Between academic years 2011-12 and 2015-16, the number of students dropping out of schools has shot up by around 71.2 per cent. While in 2011-12, only seven in 100 students had dropped out of school, 15 out of 100 students had discontinued school in 2015-16, even as fewer students were admitted.
The academic year 2015-16 saw a three per cent drop in enrolment figures.